The cool and swingin’ sounds of Art Farmer and Benny Golson with their legendary Jazztet, recorded at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival and broadcast by The Voice Of America.
The Jazztet was co-founded in 1959 by trumpeter Art Farmer and tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, always featuring the founders along with a trombonist and a piano-bass-drums rhythm section. In its first phase, the Jazztet lasted until 1962, and helped to launch the careers of pianist McCoy Tyner and trombonist Grachan Moncur III. Farmer and Golson revived the group in 1982 and it again toured extensively. Each generation of the group recorded six albums, which were released on a variety of labels.
Following their first appearance in Chicago (at the Orchestra Hall) on February 12, 1960, the Jazztet made its television debut, on The Steve Allen Show, on February 15. Their first record contract, with Argo Records, was announced in March, 1960; by this time, Lex Humphries had replaced Bailey on drums, with the latter stating that he left because “outside forces” had pressured the two leaders to use the name “the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet”. This is the band that recorded the Jazztet’s first album, Meet the Jazztet, on February 6, 9 and 10. The album was reported as having good sales, and a single from it, “Killer Joe”, with “Mox Nix” on the B side, reportedly sold over 40,000 copies in a few months. By May the same year, Tyner had left to join John Coltrane’s band; he was replaced by Duke Pearson. The band played at the Newport Jazz Festival on June 30, 1960 and the first Atlantic City jazz festival two days later.
Also in 1960, the Jazztet won Down Beat Magazine’s International Critics Poll New Star award for jazz groups. By July the same year, Tom McIntosh had replaced Fuller on trombone, with the other five members being the same. By the following month, however, the drummer had changed: Albert Heath replacing Humphries. The personnel continued to change: by early September, Addison Farmer had left, being replaced on bass by Tommy Williams, and pianist Cedar Walton had taken over from Pearson. The rapid turnover of personnel was attributable in large part to differences of opinion on financial aspects of the band’s existence. Norton reported that the two co-leaders had invested considerably in the band, as the time commitment required meant that their sideman appearances fell considerably, as did the number of compositions Golson created for other leaders. This sextet recorded three albums: Big City Sounds (September 16, 19 and 20, 1960); The Jazztet and John Lewis (December 20 and 21, 1960, and January 9, 1961, featuring compositions and arrangements by John Lewis); and the May 15, 1961 concert recording entitled The Jazztet at Birdhouse. Critic Bob Blumenthal’s comment on Meet the Jazztet and Big City Sounds was that “too many features for supporting band members and the resulting programming clutter make […them] imperfect representations of the band’s first year”, although “they offer a clear enough picture of the unit’s character”, which combined numerous, unexpected written sections that helped to gel each piece and its improvised parts together. On July 1, 1961, the Jazztet again played the Newport Jazz Festival.
For a reminder of that first Newport appearance, here is that show, as it was recorded on June 30, 1960.
Hit the Play button and settle back.